Washington Blade - November 1, 2002
Whitman-Walker panel to weigh continuation of 16-year event after
disappointing 18-percent return
The Whitman-Walker Clinic's 16th annual AIDS Walk, held October 5, pulled
in less than $600,000 in income and incurred at last $490,000 in expenses,
yielding less than $110,000 in net proceeds for programs that assist
people with AIDS, clinic officials announced last week. As a result, only
about 18 cents of every dollar raised by participants will actually go to
The 7,500 walkers who participated in the event this year more than
doubled the 3,500 walkers that turned out for last year's walk. And the
net proceeds this year, expected to be between $100,000 and $110,000,
represented a significant increase over the $4,000 net return from last
However, clinic officials said this year's outcome was a major
disappointment because they had projected more participants and a far
"We are pleased that more of our neighbors and friends came out this year
to support Whitman-Walker Clinic and raise funds for the thousands of area
residents living with HIV/AIDS," said A. Cornelius Baker, Whitman-Walker's
executive director. "But we are disappointed that this year's walk did not
meet even its modest minimum financial projections."
Baker said he directed clinic officials to immediately convene a special
task force to review the walk and make recommendations for the clinic's
board on whether the walk should be continued.
The AIDS Walk has experienced a steady decline in participants and income
since the event peaked in 1997, when between 25,000 and 30,000 people
participated, according to clinic officials. In 1998, net proceeds reached
$1.6 million, or 74 percent of the total amount raised by walkers. In
1999, the event netted $755,893 - or 49 percent of the total donations
from walkers - less than half the 1998 figure. The decline continued in
2000, when the walk pulled in $123,990 in net proceeds, representing only
14 percent of the total amount raised by participants.
The 2001 return of $4,000 was considered devastating. Clinic officials
attributed the steep decline from the year before to the fact that the
ride took place just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Tim Turnham, Whitman-Walker's development director, said the task force
reviewing the future of the AIDS Walk held its first meeting on Oct. 24.
"The two main questions we considered were, should we do the walk next
year and, if we do it, what would be the structure and format to get the
best results?" Turnham said.
In reviewing the demographics of the people who have participated in the
walk during the past five years, Turnham said, the task force found that
the number of gay participants has declined steadily.
"Most of the walk participants in recent years have been straight
suburbanites," he said. "Many are college students."
The task force feels the clinic needs to "engage or re-engage the gay
community" in the walk, Turnham said.
The event in the past few years was more of a leisurely walk rather than a
"march for a cause," he said. "We talked about changing it back to a
Turnham said the task force is also looking into recent results of AIDS
walks in other cities. He said nearly all AIDS walks in other cities have
experienced a similar decline in participation and revenue.